Google releases Dart programming language, takes aim at JavaScript

By on October 10, 2011, 11:30 AM

Google has launched an early preview of their new programming language for web application developers. Known as Dart, the language intends to overcome some of the inadequacies found in JavaScript and eventually evolve into a solid platform for structured web programming.

Dart was introduced on Google’s official code blog by Lars Bak, a Google software engineer for the Dart team. Bak outlined three design goals of the new language in the post.

The first is to create a structured yet flexible language for web programming. Additionally the team wants Dart to feel familiar and natural, thus making it easier for programmers from another language to pick up on. Finally, Dart aims to be a high performance language that demonstrates its speed on all modern web browsers and environments.

One key element of Dart is the fact that it’s an optionally typed language, making it a good alternative for small and large projects. For example, a one-person project would likely use dynamic typing which means they will add variables without defining their data type. For larger projects, it’s a good idea to define data types to keep everyone on the same page. This is called static typing. With Dart, you can start with a dynamic typing project and later convert it to static.

The early preview comes with a basic set of libraries and tools for checking, compiling and running code in the new language. As of now, no browsers support Dart, not even Google’s own Chrome, but the team is planning to explore this option. For now, developers can use the compiler to translate code from Dart to JavaScript to run on any browser.

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